Ray Tensing's retrial jury pool dips below 100 after day two of juror selection

Jurors asked about race, police and media

CINCINNATI -- The second day of jury selection for the murder retrial of ex-police officer Ray Tensing got to the heart of controversial topics hovering around the case.

The potential jurors' answers trimmed the jury pool down to 95. Judge Leslie Ghiz said she would like to have a jury selected by Tuesday afternoon.

At the end of Monday, the 12 prospective jurors sitting in the jury box included two blacks (a woman and a man) and 10 whites (six women, four men. The alternates were two black women and two white men. But that makeup is likely to change.

Black Lives Matter, police shootings and racial profiling were all among topics potential jurors discussed Monday. The dozen people dismissed -- with a few exceptions, like one juror who did not speak or understand English very well -- shared some strong opinions, and/or said they couldn't remain impartial throughout the trial.

The first two potential jurors dismissed had strong, opposing opinions about the case itself.

The first said he thought "terrible cops outweigh good cops." Referencing personal experiences, the prospective juror said he thought police targeted people who are not white. The juror said, had he shot someone wearing a body camera -- like Tensing did -- he "would be locked up." The juror was dismissed after objections from Tensing's defense attorney Stew Mathews.

The next juror dismissed said he thought "Tensing deserves a medal" for shooting Sam DuBose during a traffic stop.

"Drug dealers are ruining this city," the juror said. The juror called DuBose, the man Tensing shot, a drug dealer. He said he would not be able to sign a guilty verdict against Tensing. Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger asked for the juror to be dismissed; Mathews agreed.

Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger said "a good number of (potential jurors)" followed the Tensing case previously, based on questionnaire answers. Three women in the first group of approximately 50 people said they have not followed the case.

Tieger continued with questions, asking jurors if they knew any potential witnesses, the attorneys or Tensing. Several potential jurors knew witnesses; some jurors knew one another through work.

Tieger explained shooting justification, which he explained as a police officer's version of self-defense, and told the jurors "this is not a 'whodunit' case."

Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer fatally shot DuBose, a black motorist, during a traffic stop July 19, 2015. Tensing has claimed his use of force was justified, saying DuBose’s car dragged him as DuBose tried to drive off from a traffic stop and left Tensing in fear for his life.

Tensing's first trial ended in a hung jury. Tieger told the jury that, often times, a retrial jury is able to reach a verdict. The ex-police officer faces the same charges as his first trial: murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Jury selection began Monday with a pool of 107 potential jurors, picking up where it left off after a heated day in court Friday; Ghiz put members of the media on blast and considered motions to move the trial to another county. Ghiz excused 73 potential jurors during voir dire Friday.

Jury selection -- already several days behind schedule -- could be interrupted by another ruling from the Ohio First District Court of Appeals after Scripps/WCPO and several other media outlets in town sued the judge again Friday. That will depend on whether the appeals court accepts or rejects Ghiz’s arguments for withholding the prospective jurors’ questionnaires and imposing stricter-than-usual limitations on media access to her courtroom.

Attorneys asked potential jurors if they would be uncomfortable should their questionnaires be released to the media. Jurors who answered yes, they would feel uncomfortable or unsafe, are still in the juror pool Monday, Tieger said before questioning began.

See all of WCPO's coverage of the Tensing trial at www.wcpo.com/tensingtrial.

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